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Bruce Dowbiggin

Dead-End Streets & Empty Graves: Faking The Past

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The problem with history is that you can attach your name to passing fads— say, Ukraine flag emojis— and be considered one of the cool kids. For a while. But eventually truth catches up with you. (Just ask Joe Biden.) And if you cannot defend your attachment to banning Dundas Street or calling Canada genocidal you will eventually find yourself on the wrong side of history, mocked, disparaged and rightfully ignored by future generations.

If you are Stalin or Mao in such a bind you simply shoot everyone who points out your gross inaccuracies. But if you live in a less blood-soaked tyranny, you’d better be prepared to face your critics.

Which brings us to the virtuous folks at Toronto City Hall who want to remove the name of Scotsman Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville, from the 23-kilometre stretch from Mississauga to Scarborough that bears his name. In the same rush of blood to the head that saw radicals change the name of Ryerson University to the Anodyne School of Nothingness, these crack researchers decided Dundas was an active proponent of slavery in the eighteenth/nineteenth centuries.

The proposal they’ve presented to Toronto City Council would cost (their estimate) $8.1 M to remove his name from the endless street. This at a time when the Gardiner Expressway is set to collapse. And city parks are filled with drug addicts and mental health patients. And getting a building permit is only slightly less difficult than the Egyptians creating the pyramids. Priorities!

But we digress. The cost to every person, business or church located on that span or to those doing business with, sending a parcel to or planning a transit trip on Dundas dwarfs that estimate. But Wokeness must be served. Dundas had tried to prevent the anti-slavery forces in England from banning the practice universal in the world at the time. Smart guys say so.

Now—saints preserve us— three former Toronto mayors beg to disagree. They’ve actually read the history of Dundas that the civil servants misrepresented, and they want new lefty mayor Olivia Chow to stop the Dundas Street purge. Turns out Dundas was a LEADER in ending slavery in the British empire, after all. Oops.

For media slappies— you know who you are— who embraced the demise of Dundas much as they embraced the defrocking of Egerton Ryerson, Joseph Brant and Sir John A. this creates whiplash. How to stay onside with the real history after going balls-deep on the slavery devil narrative?

The easy answer is to— look at that shiny object— refer to the handy list of other street names still to be banned by city hall. Yonge Street. Wellesley Street. Simcoe Street. Even Baby Point Road. Go hard on them. Sure, you’ll run out of tyrants and racists eventually, but by then everyone will have forgotten how you libeled Dundas and Sir John A.

A similar rethink is also underway in regards to the “Mass graves/ Genocidal Canada” story promoted by PMJT. You remember? Skippy clutching a teddy bear in a Kamloops cemetery that was rumored to contain the graves of children who met a bad end in the care of the Church or residential school? Then cancelling Canada Day and leaving flags at half mast for months. And telling the UN that Canada is genocidal, because x-rays showed what could have been dead babies underground. Or just rocks.

Forget that no parent of a Rez school child had ever reported a child missing or alleged murder or exorcism, the PM cast his lot with the murder meme. In several cases Trudeau was told by chiefs that the locals knew precisely who was buried in those graves. Cowessess First Nation band member Irene Andreas . “There is no ‘discovery’ of graves.  We buried our dead with a proper funeral. Then we allowed them to Rest In Peace…To assume that foul play took place would be premature and unsupported… So please, people, do not make up stories about residential school children being put in unmarked graves. No such thing ever happened.”

Trudeau was unrepentant. It was Teddy bear or bust. As we wrote in June, the narrative was furthered by the absence of any exhumed graves. Critics— labelled as deniers— were forced to disprove the story. Former Indigenous Affairs Minister Marc Miller described as “ghouls” those who pointed out that residential school indigenous children died of the diseases of the day. As a few brave souls discovered, crossing Miller was a ticket to non-person status.

Until now. Turns out that Brandon University excavators examined a site under a Manitoba church identified as problematic by x-ray. The ground search cited 57 abnormalities. Their finding? Nope. Just rocks.

Which should be good news. Except if, like Trudeau’s chum Miller, you’re invested in Justin’s Genocidal narrative. Then it’s very bad. Pine Creek nation chief Derek Nepinak took great pains in announcing the discovery to stress, like Yosemite Sam, that I-don’t-know-how-they-done-it, but-I-know-they-done- it.

Nepinak’s preamble: “As a community we were preparing for more than one possible outcome, which meant we would prepare for the worst but hope for the best.” This suggested no remains was a positive.  https://nationalpost.com/news/canada/excavation-after-14-anomalies-detected-at-former-residential-school-site-found-no-evidence-of-graves-manitoba-chief

Guess again. “The results of our excavation under the church should not be deemed as conclusive of other ongoing searches and efforts to identify reflections from other community processes including other (ground-penetrating radar) initiatives… “This does not mark the end of our truth-finding project.”

No kidding. Except the very limited excavations done so far have revealed none of the alleged murdered children so desperately conjured up by the Trudeau media and the radicals in the Indigenous community. Barring forensic evidence we are left with stories from elders and the lurid tales at the reconciliation committee.

That standard may be fine for the Indigenous community, but in the outside world those journalists who described scenes of horror and Canada’s role in it should disappear for a while. Fat chance. That would include David Butt, a Toronto criminal lawyer writing in the Globe and Mail, claiming “The discovery of thousands of unmarked graves of Indigenous children on the sites of former residential schools…looks and smells like criminal activity.”

Activist firebrand Robert Jago said anyone questioning the validity of his own genocide allegations should be considered equivalent to “Holocaust denial” and punished as a hate-speech purveyor. And then there’s Trudeau cabinet hacks like Miller echoing The Boss.

So don’t expect a reckoning. There are truths, and then there are truths. As former CRTC vice chair Peter Menzies observed: “The one thing this process has made abundantly clear is that the interests of anyone outside their club are irrelevant to all inside it.”

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Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his new book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via http://brucedowbigginbooks.ca/book-personalaccount.aspx

BRUCE DOWBIGGIN Award-winning Author and Broadcaster Bruce Dowbiggin's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience . He is currently the editor and publisher of Not The Public Broadcaster website and is also a contributor to SiriusXM Canada Talks. His new book Cap In Hand was released in the fall of 2018. Bruce's career has included successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster for his work with CBC-TV, Mr. Dowbiggin is also the best-selling author of "Money Players" (finalist for the 2004 National Business Book Award) and two new books-- Ice Storm: The Rise and Fall of the Greatest Vancouver Canucks Team Ever for Greystone Press and Grant Fuhr: Portrait of a Champion for Random House. His ground-breaking investigations into the life and times of Alan Eagleson led to his selection as the winner of the Gemini for Canada's top sportscaster in 1993 and again in 1996. This work earned him the reputation as one of Canada's top investigative journalists in any field. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013) where his incisive style and wit on sports media and business won him many readers.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Corked: The Incongruous Affection For Government Liquor Retailing

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First, the nostalgia. In 1974 we worked at the (now departed) Huron and Dupont LCBO site for Xmas. In those days, when people arrived by dog sled, customers were required to consult a book, find the code that corresponded to their choice of wine or booze, and then hand the slip to a clerk (us) who would fetch the evil brew from a deep lair beneath the store.

Okay, it was from shelves beyond the view of customers. We would then return with the bottle, a cashier would process the transaction, and democracy was safe for another day. After we left, the LCBO modernized stores to allow customers to actually see the bottles they were considering (heresy). They hired clerks who actually knew something about the products, Later still they even had sales and tasting bars in fancy stores adorned in chrome and wood accents.

Those who wanted anything different could hoover to Buffalo or Rochester where the stores were often modest but the prices attractive. Different stores carried different inventories. While Ontario customers ordered rationed futures or shivered in parking lots to get a miniscule share of a hot new wine, getting product at the U.S. stores was both immediate and not rationed.

The contrast was stark. Which is where things sit today. The Ontario government (like all provincial governments save Alberta) is still in the retail business. In the day, they had about 8,000 slots for shelf-worthy products. If you wanted to purchase something else you needed a process that made finding the headwaters of the Nile seem like a casual jaunt. It’s less strenuous now, with the Ford government allowing sales in corner outlets and grocery stores.

But the LCBO remains a unionized tribute to Bill Davis’ Ontario. A polite, apologetic concession to pre-Trudeau Canada. Which is why the noisy ruckus being kicked up by the unionized employees is a downer for the Family Compact sensibilities. The people who stock shelves, operate cashes, check IDs and refuse to give you plastic bags are on strike to protect their sinecures with government. Have they no gratitude?

Union leaders are insisting that the loss of their workers will be a death blow to healthcare and education in the province. All sorts of miscreants will be allowed to escape detection in the buying process. For those of us now living in Alberta this eye-rolling claim is amusing. You see, private liquor retailing has been in effect here for decades. Different stores have different choices. Sales are an everyday feature of the experience. While the LCBO brags about its buying power you don’t see it reflected in prices. Bonus: We also can purchase Costco’s Kirkland brand wines which are cheap and delicious.

The predicted increase in crime and diminution of tax income without unionized store clerks has not happened. As Brian Lilley explains in The Sun, “Statistics Canada tracks the annual net income of liquor authorities in Canada and for fiscal year 2022-23, Alberta returned $825,104,000 to the provincial coffers. With a population of 4,645,229 as of April 1, 2023, that means the Alberta Gaming, Liquor and Cannabis Commission gave the government a per capita return of $177.62.

“That same year, the LCBO’s net income from liquor was $2,457,527,000. With a population of 15,457,075 as of April 1, 2023, the LCBO returned $158.99 per capita. Even using the $2.58 billion the LCBO remits, which includes other earnings, the LCBO’s per capita return to the province would be $166.91, which is still lower than Alberta’s return.” In short, we call bogus on the union’s claim.

But there is in government liquor sales the Canadian quality of worshipful adherence to the state. This is the polite impulse of restricting competition that has driven healthcare into the stratosphere for Canadians. Even as they wait 18 months to see a specialist or sit endlessly in a waiting room, Canadians privately welcome this as a merit badge for not accepting the two-tiered systems of Europe or the insurance-based market in the U.S.

Their suffering gives them gravitas that, as middle-class folk, they can suffer like the poor folks do, the ones whom, pace the NDP, need our empathy. The glossy brochures churned out by LCBO minions allow a frisson of pizazz but without oppressing the folks camped out in Trinity Bellwods park.

For this reason the Ford Conservatives are treading very carefully despite the evident big-foot uselessness of the current model. In the venerable Ontario government tradition of trying to be half-pregnant they don’t want to stir up the class warriors seen recently in ant-Israel demos. It’s similar in the rest of the provinces where bureaucrats have convinced elected officials that, like Jack in Brokeback Mountain, “I wish I knew how to quit you, Ennis.”

Whatever the LCBO strike result it’s a safe assumption that no one in the Canadian bureaucracy will be losing their jobs to the free market. The huge bumps in hiring since Covid show a colossus that has no intention of giving back its power to regulate. From liquor to climate Canadian politicians have ceded responsibility for areas that can be handled more efficiently and cheaply by civil servants and consultants. Kind of like CBC.

It is possible to kick the habit. The recent Chevron SCOTUS decision seeks to unpack the bureaucratic state by de-fanging its armies of in-house experts, pushing regulations and laws back to elected officials and away from the sprawling DEI-infested bureaucracy. You can tell it’s working by the torrents of complaint from redundant officials. Even more drastically, new Argentine president Javier Milei has reduced his cabinet departments from 22 to just nine.

While PM-in-waiting Pierre Poilievre talks a big game about tackling these excesses, he doesn’t stand a chance at rationalizing government services. So it’s likely he’ll have to content himself with a nice glass of beer or wine. That, under the LCBO, will cost him more than it should.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book Deal With It: The Trades That Stunned The NHL And Changed hockey is now available on Amazon. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his previous book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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Bruce Dowbiggin

Soccer Most Foul: While Canada Soars The Game Suffers

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Watching Canada’s mens team at the Copa 2024 soccer tournament has been a hoot. With a coach who hasn’t been there long enough to unpack his bags and with a smattering of world-class players they’ve managed to make a little go a long way. They play mighty Argentina on Tuesday after winning a dramatic shootout against Venezuela on Friday.

They’ve yet to score more than once in any game. In two games they’ve been shut out in regulation time. One of the top forwards, Tajan Buchanan, broke his leg. The grandstands are about five percent Canada, 95 percent the other guys. They played almost an entire game with a man advantage and never took any advantage.

The Canada national team huddle together during the Concacaf Gold Cup football match semifinal between Mexico and Canada at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas on July 29, 2021. (Photo by AARON M. SPRECHER / AFP) (Photo by AARON M. SPRECHER/AFP via Getty Images)

But here they are. God bless ‘em. The American announcers, bereft after the U.S. collapsed, have adopted Canada as a feel-good story. Should they beat Argentina it will be almost enough for Canadians to forget that Justin Trudeau is still their prime minister. Almost.

What is unavoidable— outside the Canada plot line— is the distressed state of soccer being played at the Copa and the concurrent Euro 24 tournament deciding the champion of that neck of the world. Not that it hasn’t been a disputatious disgrace in the past, but the soccer playing out next to Canada’s ascension is breaching new lows.

Soccer is the UN of sports. It has a storied past. It represents many good and virtuous things in the world. But it is now a swamp of corruption, cynicism and bad people. To paraphrase the Hunter S. Thompson expression, soccer is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs.

At times it seems that the object is the litigation process of lies and deception during the game, not the eventual outcome. Like Iran on the UN Women’s Commission or China on the Human Rights board, Ecuador as a soccer titan seems to beggar the imagination. But there you go.

The nadir of this incarnation of “the beautiful game” was likely the unwatchable spectacle of Uruguay and Brazil on Saturday night. The way the bodies were hitting the ground you’d have thought it was the Somme. Except at the Somme, the bodies didn’t miraculously revive and rejoin the battle as if nothing had happened to them.

While there were 37 fouls called (including four yellow cards and a red card) dozens more incidents ended up with players writhing on the turf, pounding the grass with their fist as if their leg had been severed. When the referee ignored the charade, their teammates swarmed Dario Herrera to dispute the sheer injustice of it all. The pantomime of outrage and pomposity was more suited to Gilbert & Sullivan than a sporting event.

Creating some offence seemed to be too heavy of a load for the Brazilians and Uruguayans. (Brazil’s star Vincius Jr. was suspended for the game.) Hence the puny four shots on target in the entire 120-minutes plus of regulation (three by Brazil, one by Uruguay). Better to see if the referee can set you up for a free kick inside the box by feigning injury. Or halt your opponents as they threaten to launch a ball in the direction of your goalie.

The endless lather, rinse, repeat of this process was exhausting as it became clear that the clubs were going to let a shootout settle who would proceed to the semifinals against Colombia (Canada/ Argentina is the other semi.) Finally Uruguay outlasted Brazil 4-2 in the shootout.

Almost hidden in the docket of legal challenges made to luckless referee Herrera was the fact that one of the Brazilian players is currently being investigated in for match fixing. Turns out he’s been (allegedly) taking a dive to draw a yellow cards so his being buddies can cash in.

But he’s been granted a papal dispensation or the equivalent to play in the tournament . Oh, that puts the whole thing beyond the pale. Remember that unhappy bettors once murdered a Colombian player for an own goal at the World Cup. What could possibly go wrong?

That brings up another subject. Which is the standards for what’s allowed in the game. Under a mysterious tradition, defenders are apparently allowed to grab jerseys, hand-check attackers, tackle players in the penalty box on corner kicks and generally impede attackers who stray into their vicinity. If you want to know why three of four COPA matches and three of four Euro matches ended in SO or OT, look no further than the permissible impeding of offence. Scoring is a herculean task when teams are remotely competent.

In a hidebound sport such as soccer where politics reigns supreme, nothing happens without someone’s palm being greased. (And this is our seemingly umpteenth time in our four decades reporting on sport that we have made this point.) But we shall try again.

Other sports have understood that neither fans nor networks pay to see defence. So the NBA made hand-checking opponents a foul. The NHL made slashing the hands of a shooter into a two-minute penalty. The NFL told defensive backs that they couldn’t grab jerseys or limbs in covering receivers. It worked, freeing up the game enough so it doesn’t look like Brazil/ Uruguay every night.

Surely, soccer can restrict the borderline tactics of defenders to allow more flow to the sport. No doubt the cro-magnons that roam the pitch will howl. The players-turned-announcers in the booth will scoff. Fans will blame “sissy tactics” when their team loses.

But please. For one last time. We want to enjoy soccer, not endure it. Open up the game. Shut down the players who turn soccer into The English Patient. Let skill, not clever fouling, decide matches. Remove the terpsichorean spectacle from the pitch.

There. We said it. Nothing will change, but we will feel better about not watching in the future.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the editor of Not The Public Broadcaster  A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada’s top television sports broadcaster, he’s a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. His new book Deal With It: The Trades That Stunned The NHL And Changed hockey is now available on Amazon. Inexact Science: The Six Most Compelling Draft Years In NHL History, his previous book with his son Evan, was voted the seventh-best professional hockey book of all time by bookauthority.org . His 2004 book Money Players was voted sixth best on the same list, and is available via brucedowbigginbooks.ca.

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